Borussia Dortmund took a large step towards making the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals for a second year running as Robert Lewandowski's second-half double helped secure an entertaining victory at FC Zenit.
Last season's runners-up raced into an early two-goal lead thanks to strikes from Marco Reus and Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Oleg Shatov gave the home side hope just before the hour, but Lewandowski swiftly restored the visitors' cushion and then made the game safe with a second smart finish after Hulk's penalty had again reduced Zenit's arrears.
There was much expectation among the Zenit fans, who were watching their team play their first competitive match in over two months. However, that sense of anticipation was extinguished within five frenetic minutes as Jürgen Klopp's men exploited some rustiness in the home defence to take a firm grip on the game and the tie. On four minutes Reus, marauding down the right flank, easily held off the challenge of Domenico Criscito before the ball fell to Mkhitaryan, who slotted past Yuri Lodygin.
The visiting supporters were still celebrating when Reus doubled Dortmund's advantage a minute later, latching onto Kevin Grosskreutz's lay-off to beat Lodygin at his near post with Zenit's defence nowhere to be seen.
Luciano Spalletti's Russian league leaders tried to find a way back into the contest, but with the exception of Hulk they lacked a cutting edge. Lewandowski could have extended Dortmund's lead yet further, Lodygin turning the Polish international's attempt behind for a corner.
The 2013 finalists continued to create chances after the interval, yet Zenit were given a lifeline on 57 minutes. When José Rondón, making his first competitive appearance for the Premier-Liga outfit, hit the post, the ball came back for Shatov to rifle left-footed past Roman Weidenfeller.
Dortmund, and Lewandowski, responded almost immediately after good work from Łukasz Piszczek, the striker controlling a return cross from his Poland team-mate and steering a low effort under Lodygin. Piszczek's night took a turn for the worse as he was adjudged to have fouled Viktor Fayzulin and Hulk thumped the penalty beyond Weidenfeller; however, Lewandowski ensured Dortmund would have the last word.
This time he was played in by the excellent Reus and drilled a right-footed shot across Lodygin and into the bottom left-hand corner, his sixth goal in seven outings in this season's competition. Dortmund will go into the second leg on 19 March in firm control of the tie.